China bans actress Zhao Wei from stock trading for five years for fake information backed by insufficient resources

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Ms Zhao Wei (赵薇), 41, one of China’s most famous actresses, along with her husband, had received a five-year ban from trading in the mainland stock market for irregularities associated with a takeover bid, in an attempt to target the companies’ shares to gain control of the businesses, said the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on November 8.

Ms Zhao’s company, Longwei Culture & Media, announced last December that it would spend 3 billion yuan (S$615 million) to acquire a little-known animation company called Zhejiang Sunriver Culture listed in Shanghai.

However, in early February 2017, her company said it would forgo the bid for a 29 per cent stake, after regulators issued letters seeking additional information on the deal. They scaled the bid back to 5 per cent but the attempt also did not get through. Zhejiang was then bought by another investor and renamed Zhejiang Sunriver Culture Co.

It was found that Ms Zhao and her company had violated disclosure rules by announcing and playing up merger and acquisition intentions without sufficient resources or backing from financial institutions.

The parties have “seriously misled the market with fake information”, according to the filing by Zhejiang Sunriver Culture. Their initiation of merger had “greatly skewed the market” due to Ms Zhao’s fame and popularity, the filing added.

Ms Zhao, who has served as jury member on the Venice Film Festival and owns a wine chateau in Bordeaux, has built up a wealth through several investments including an early stake in Alibaba Pictures Group. Her husband Huang Youlong had also partnered with e-commerce billionaire and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma on a private equity deal in 2015, according to Bloomberg.

A statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange shows that the CSRC also imposed fines worth 1.2 million yuan (US$150,000) on Zhao, Huang and the company they control, Tibet Longwei Culture Media Co.

One of the most popular representatives was the TV series “Princess Pearl” (Huan Zhu Ge Ge).